Saturday, February 21, 2015

FAQ, Part 14

Is a Happy Mouth or Nathe bit acceptable for the hunter ring?

Yes, it is fairly common to see hunters ridden in white plastic bits. Judges are unlikely to penalize a horse for going in a soft bit, and while the colour can stand out in contrast to the horse and bridle, it is of little consequence on a well-turned-out horse. Bit material is not regulated, provided it is humane.

How can I tell which classes are in a hunter division?

The horse show's prize list should outline which classes are included in each division. Generally, a hunter division will have anywhere from two to four over fences classes as well as one under saddle (flat) class. Certain shows might offer a handy class, a model class, or a stake class as part of a division.

In the prize list or schedule, the jumping classes will usually be denoted by either "over fences" or "o/f" (the class specified as a handy or a stake is also over fences), while the under saddle could be represented by "u/s". For equitation divisions, "on the flat" or "flat" is used in place of "under saddle".

Are flexible stirrups permitted in the hunter ring?

Jointed or flexible stirrups are permitted for hunter classes. For equitation and medal classes in Canada, however, black branches are not permissible (light-coloured branches are fine), though the stirrups may still be jointed. USEF rules allow black joints for equitation classes as long as the entire stirrup iron is not black.

Can you braid just the tail for a hunter class?

Braiding the tail is usually done for especially formal classes, so it is typically done in cases when the mane is already expected to be braided. If the horse show is formal enough to braid anything, the mane should be braided. At schooling shows where braiding is not expected, some riders might practice braiding the tail for fun, but otherwise it is typical to braid either just the mane or both the mane and tail.

Which is better for a hunter, a high or a low score?

When numerical scoring is used in the hunter ring, it is based on an ideal score of 100, so a higher score is a better score.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fix a Broken Halter Chin Strap

One of the most frequently-broken halter parts is the chin strap, especially on those halters that have adjustable ones. Ideally you will have either a spare halter or a spare chin strap close at hand, but your spare could be a less-than-ideal fit or material. In such cases, it's possible to fashion your own replacement chin strap, or even create one in advance to keep on hand.

I like to keep old stirrup leathers around because they can be very useful as spare stirrup leathers or as neck straps. At the right width and thickness, they are also handy for halter repairs.

Step one is to remove the old chin strap. If it is in otherwise good shape, you could keep it to be repaired professionally. Fasten the throatlatch to keep everything neat and easy to visualize.

Step two is to find an appropriate stirrup leather. Something single-ply and at most 1" wide is most likely to fit through the slots.

Step three is to thread the stirrup leather through the slots and ring. Ensure that the side facing towards the horse is the same side that you would like to show on the outside of the finished chin strap (thread it wrongly and your buckle won't be able to close). You can trim off a section of stirrup leather before threading it, but err on the side of caution so that you don't end up with too short of a chin strap at the end. The stirrup leather in these photos is "rough side out", so it is threaded with the rough side facing towards the horse's chin.

Before inserting the leather into the second slot, slide two sturdy braiding elastics onto the leather. These will serve as keepers later on to help the leather keep the desired shape.

After coming out of the second slot, loop the leather back onto itself and through the nearest elastic.

Take the buckle end and fold it back onto itself and through the other elastic, and then feed the longest end through the ring to meet the other end.

Slide a third braiding elastic over the non-buckle end. Put the halter on your horse carefully (you can trim off any obvious excess in advance to avoid spooking your horse) and shorten the chin strap until it's the desired length. Use the braiding elastic to mark the spot where you would like to make a hole.

Use a leather punch to make a hole in the marked location. If you plan on using the replacement chin strap for multiple horses, punch one or two holes on either side of the target hole to allow for adjustment.

Move the marker elastic onto the buckle end of the leather, and then buckle the chin strap, using the elastic as a keeper. You can trim off any excess leather an inch or so beyond the furthest hole. If you are using a stirrup leather with roller buckles such as this one, you might consider wrapping the roller in Vetrap to dampen any jingling.